Monday, June 30, 2008

Liz Is Married!

On Saturday one of my oldest friends got married outside of Philadelphia. Liz and I have known each other for as long as I can remember; our mothers were childhood friends and our grandmothers grew up knowing one another as well.

The wedding was beautiful and Liz looked gorgeous in her gown and mother's veil. In addition to all the stress of last-minute wedding planning, Liz and Joe closed on their first house last week. They're such a calm and welcoming couple, however, that you never would have guessed that it had been a chaotic week for them.

My favorite perk at the reception was a black and white photo booth. Guests were instructed to take their pictures and then post them on black pieces of paper with a message for the guestbook. Everyone had so much fun with it and I predict the guestbook will be one of their most treasured items from the wedding. The picture below is one Liz and I took together. You can see the paperclip on the side holding it to the guestbook. Paul and I drove with the kids to the Philadelphia area. Paul drove through the night on Thursday in hopes that the kids would sleep the whole way. They were pretty good in the car, but I have vowed to keep them out of their car seats today if at all possible.

Paul was a hero this weekend. Norah and Atticus were a little overwhelmed by the many, many adults at the rehearsal party and wedding reception so Paul ended up leaving early with them both nights. I spent a lot of time last week picking out new outfits for them to wear at the wedding but then got distracted by my bridesmaid duties and forgot to take any pictures of them! They loved swimming in the hotel pool, racing around the room, and especially enjoyed the king-sized bed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pictures from Last Week's Picnic

When you're waiting to become parents, you always imagine your spouse will be the type of dad to carry his kids around on his shoulders.

This picture perfectly captures Atticus's personality when encountering new situations. He likes to observe the action before committing to participating in it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

60 Minutes

Did anyone else see the 60 Minutes story on Plumpynut last night? The story was shot in Niger where Plumpy Nut is being distributed to combat malnutrition and starvation.

Doctors Without Borders is also using Plumpynut in Southern Ethiopia right now. There has been a drought there and it's estimated that 11 percent of people are suffering from acute malnutrition in some areas.

I watched the 60 Minutes footage this morning while Norah and Atticus were eating their breakfast. To see a story about women whose babies are dying because they have literally nothing to eat while your own children are shoveling granola into their mouths is so humbling. I can't watch it without imagining Atticus and Norah in that situation, without imagining myself in the position of those mothers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Three Festivals

We walked down to the local art festival yesterday. It's too bad we didn't register Atticus and Norah as a performance art installation; If we'd been able to charge all the people who stopped to coo over them we would have walked away with a good start to their college fund.

I'm always amazed by how often Paul and I have this conversation:

Bystander: "Ooh! Are they twins?!!"
Us: "No, they're three months apart." This is said in a tone we interpret to be pleasant, but rather final so as to discourage further discussion.
Bystander: "Huh. How did that happen?"
Us: "We adopted them."
Bystander: "So, are they really brother and sister?"
Us: "Um, yes. But they're not related biologically."

Is it really that hard to look at two white parents pushing a stroller with their two brown babies and make a couple of wild guesses about their family? Is it that necessary to find out more details about their personal lives? I don't mean to sound grumpy about it. I love showing off our kids and I don't mind talking about adoption. It's always in the back of my mind though that someday very soon Atticus and Norah are going to be able to understand these conversations. I doubt they're going to feel comfortable with people questioning the origin of our family every single time we go out. How do those of you who are adoptive parents handle curious (and clueless) onlookers? I want to strike a balance between being open and proud of our family while also discouraging total strangers from thinking that it's totally okay to ask personal questions about my kids in the middle of the grocery store. Is that even possible?

After the art fair we walked down to the river. Paul's company had a booth at the Eco-Fest and we wanted to make an appearance. When we got to the festival, however, the mood seemed After a couple of minutes we realized we had mistakenly arrived at the Suicide Prevention Festival.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Last night at a picnic for Paul's company there was a petting zoo. I was so proud of my kids for patting the bunnies and ducklings gently. Then Atticus found a rabbit poop and popped it into his mouth. It's good to know just how fast my finger-swiping reflex is.

We have a lot of new developments to be proud of around here. Norah started repeating dog, dog, dog, dog, dog yesterday at the supermarket when Atticus and I were discussing treats for Stella. She's also waving hello and goodbye. She uses her entire arm while taking joy in moving her shoulder blade. It's pretty darn cute.

Atticus not only brings us books to read but hands one to me, sits in my lap, and then goes to get another book when we're done reading. He apparently conquered his fear of grass at the picnic and wandered around the field chasing a soccer ball and looking for Paul.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Surgery went well and we're home. Atticus is very tired out and crabby but is expected to feel better soon. Poor little guy. I wish they'd prepared us to expect that he might be inconsolable for about an hour after waking up. I think Paul and I were both about to punch the unfriendly nurse who forgot to take out his IV.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Norah has recently discovered how to smile for the camera. As soon as she hears it beep she raises her chin into the air, smiles, and makes a happy "cheeeeeeeese" sound. I have to admit, I don't think this pose really captures her good side. In order to get a decent picture we have to wait for her to get sick of modeling.

She loves to stand and yesterday said her first word as I helped her: "Up!" She has an adorable little voice.

We had a great time visiting the zoo yesterday. The big male chimp came right to the window ledge where Atticus was standing and they stared at each other for a long time. On our way home a huge hail storm hit. The hail was the size of gum balls and golf balls, there was a lot of it, and it was loud. Luckily, both of the kids slept through the whole thing and there was no damage done to our cars or house.

Atticus is having minor surgery tomorrow morning. It's very routine and safe, but he's our baby so we're quite nervous about the whole thing. It's scheduled for 9:15 AM and should be over by eleven. If everyone could send good thoughts our way I would really appreciate it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

The photo uploader decided to work this morning so I can post the top picture of Paul getting Atticus down to sleep last night. He's such a good dad.

One of the most exciting developments this week was that Atticus started bringing us books to read. In the picture they're perusing one of their favorites, Charlie Monkey, a gift from Bebe that features lots of tactile elements and flies that light up and buzz around the lion's mane on the last page. It's a huge hit.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Baby Shoplifter

Norah helped herself to a huge stalk of asparagus today at the farmers market. The booth owner was nice enough to let her keep it and she happily chewed on it until we put her in her car seat.

I had to laugh when I heard Paul just tell someone that 50% of our children are good sleepers. It sounds a little better when you put it that way.

I know people are waiting for new pictures to be posted. My mom very generously loaned me her laptop to use while mine is being repaired. Unfortunately it doesn't always cooperate when I try to upload new pictures. I should have my own computer back next week, but until then I'm stealing some of my mom's pictures from the week we came home from Ethiopia. The kids have grown so much!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Letter to the Man at the Gas Station

Dear Sir Pumping Gas Next to Me,

Local gas prices of $4.19 per gallon sure are hitting everybody hard. I certainly don't like filling up the tank of my small Toyota and seeing my fuel cost over forty dollars. I wanted to thank you for giving me a good chuckle today. It's not every day that someone has the audacity to complain while pumping gas into their brand-new, still with temporary plates, Cadillac Escalade.

I'm sure you were looking for commiseration, but I really didn't have it in me. I peeked at your gas pump and saw your fuel cost over $120. Because I couldn't get this out of my head, I came home and researched the Escalade and found that your monthly car payment (assuming you didn't pay cash) is more than twice my monthly mortgage.

Perhaps you can consider the ability to pay for and squander all that fuel as a part of the status symbol of your vehicle. At any rate, please don't complain to me because it makes me feel very cranky.

The Woman Who Researched Fuel Efficiency Before Purchasing a Car

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sister Teaches Her Brother and It's Not Good

After Atticus learned to climb the stairs last week our lives got busier. We spent pretty much all our time following and retrieving him as he single-mindedly headed up the stairs again and again. Our house is almost 95 years-old and doesn't accommodate the baby gates we bought (As a sidenote, what the heck did people do in the olden days to keep their kids off the stairs? Surely they had gates?).

Finally on Sunday we found a gate that almost worked. It fits the width of our doorway but after much trial, error, and effort it wouldn't fit inside the baseboards so had to be elevated above them. There's an 11-inch gap between the floor and the bottom of the gate. It's not dangerous (the kids can't get stuck) so we decided to try it out.

For the first 36 hours it worked beautifully. Atticus had a field day yesterday dropping his toys between the slats of the gate and we didn't have to constantly chase him up the stairs. This afternoon, however, Norah accidentally pushed herself underneath the gate to the other side. She's still pushing around backwards with no control of her destination and was very unhappy to find she was no longer in the living room.

Atticus watched this scene unfold and a smile spread across his face. Within about 3 seconds he was under the gate and up the stairs. Sigh. I guess we're back to the drawing board.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm Employable After All!

I was offered a new teaching job this morning! My new school is the medical magnet high school for this district and serves a student demographic similar to my former school. I'll be teaching four periods of English 9 Honors and one period of English 10. For those of you who are wondering, this means I'll have 10 classes per week to plan. At my last school I had 27 different classes per week. I'll also have 50 minutes more of prep time each week and the health insurance family deductible is $200 versus the $2000 I've had this year (not convenient with all the adoption-related medical expenses). I loved my former school, but this new opportunity is really exciting!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's been a busy week for us. My last day of school was on Friday. It felt so weird to just hand in my keys and walk out the door. I've learned so much in the last four years and I'm going to miss my coworkers and students.

For the first time since I was sixteen, I don't have any work lined up for the summer (aside, of course, from answering to my two new bosses Norah and Atticus). I can't wait. I'm looking for a new job for the fall. The school system around here is notorious for waiting until after the school year begins to hire new teachers; I hope I don't have to wait that long since I don't do terribly well with uncertainty.

Yesterday my mom and I took the kids to the farmers market where they were having an adopt-a-pet day. It's funny how having two infants has completely killed my urge to add another puppy to our home. Stella earns her keep cleaning up underneath the highchairs and sleeping outside the kids' bedroom door at night. However, between the shedding and the early summer mud she constantly tracks in, we have more than enough dog to keep me satisfied these days.

In the afternoon, we went to a public toddler pool. It has tons of slides and other frills and never gets deeper than 21 inches. Yesterday there were 5 lifeguards, 5 parents, and 4 children there, so we felt like our kids were pretty safe. We had to take frequent breaks from the water because it was cold but Atticus kept toddling back over. At one point, I decided to see if he would stop at the edge, but instead he started to just step right into the "deep" end. Norah enjoyed going down the water slide with Paul and we all came home nice and tired!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ready for the Choir

Norah has discovered how to clap. She sits in the bathtub and rocks her entire torso back and forth as she brings her hands together. She looks like a very happy member of a gospel choir.

When she wakes up at night she can be hard to put back down because It's Just So Much Fun to Be Awake!!! When you have feet to look at!!! And brothers to kick!!! And you can roll around!!! Those of you who went to high school with Paul will understand what he means when he says that it's like having an infant version of Rachel B. Rachel is one of the most optimistic and enthusiastic people I've ever met. I would have to main-line Mountain Dew to work up her degree of energy. It's so delightful to see Norah's sunny disposition develop. She was happy but very quiet when we first brought her home. Now it's like she's filled with champagne bubbles.